Jim Aiello found out he had kidney disease by accident. A life insurance blood test 20 years ago revealed the problem. Several doctors confirmed the diagnosis, but no one could tell Jim what was the cause of his disease or how it would progress.
"I had no symptoms, but every 6 months I'd go to the doctors and we'd do the tests," says Jim. "One time the doctor told me I would have to see a specialist. He said my kidneys were failing and it was time to get a transplant. That's when I went to BIDMC."
Jim hoped to get a kidney transplant before needing dialysis, something BIDMC doctors recommend.
"We think it's extremely important for patients with kidney failure to receive a transplant before they start dialysis if possible because the outcomes are much, much better if we can accomplish that." Says Dr. Douglas Hanto, Chief of Transplantation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
The BIDMC Transplant Institute peforms about 75 kidney transplants each year from both live and cadaver donors. Patients benefit from a true team approach. At the Transplant Institute you can see a surgeon, transplant nephrologist, liver specialist, infectious disease specialist, transplant specialized nurse, social worker and dietician all in the same place.
"You see one doctor after the other. They take you from one stage to the next and talk you right through everything, " says Jim.
Jim was fortunate to have a big family. Several of his 10 siblings were willing and suitable kidney donors. His older brother Chuck, who had lost his own five-year old daughter to kidney cancer, became Jim's donor.
So far the Aiello brothers are doing very well.
"BIDMC was an excellent hospital," says Chuck. "They said we'd be out of work four to eight weeks and we were right back quickly."
"I have a new kidney. I know it's working and I know I don't have to worry anymore," says Jim.